Thursday, February 08, 2007

Victoria Strauss -- Yet More Contest Stuff

Writers worry a lot about theft and plagiarism. They really don't need to; theft of unpublished work is so rare as to be functionally nonexistent. It's not till your work is published--i.e., exposed to a wide audience--that the issue of plagiarism comes into play.

Over the past few months, a couple of contests have certainly been exposed to a wide audience: the Sobol Contest and Gather.com's First Chapters Writing Competition. So maybe it's not surprising that someone has decided to do a little borrowing. What do you get when you take Gather.com's first three chapters concept and combine it with Sobol's excessive entry fee and unpleasant stipulations for winners? Premiere Fiction, a contest that invites initial submission of the first three chapters, has an entry fee of $125 (no, that's not a typo), and takes publication rights to the winners' manuscripts.

(On the other hand, maybe I'm being too hard on these guys. After all, if they'd seen the Sobol discussion, they probably wouldn't be charging $125, right?)

Publication will be through the contest's sponsor, Terracopiae Press, a practically nonexistent "traditional" publishing company (according to Amazon, it has published just one book) that offers a three-year contract. The wording of the Rules and Regulations ("This competition retains all the book publishing rights to the winning entry of each genre in the United States") suggests that this may be an offer the winner can't refuse.

Also not reassuring: there's no contest timeline. No entry deadline, no schedule for notifications or announcements. If you enter this contest, you have no benchmarks with which to track the contest's progress, and no way to hold the contest sponsor accountable.

Terracopiae has apparently been soliciting contest entries by means of that tried and true publicity method, spam. Here's their description of the contest:

We at Terracopiae Press are looking for a few good books! Right now, we are holding our Premiere Fiction contest for finished, unpublished manuscripts in several genre.

Why is it worth your while to submit to our contest? The obvious answer is that the first prize winner in each genre will recieve a publishing contract for the submitted winning work. Your book could be the next winner to be placed on bookstore shelves! Of course, there are also second and third place prizes within each genre that are targeted at authors who are prepared to publish. These prizes are to help you get there.

Not enough? Are you still wondering why you should submit your work? Every person who submits their work WILL get a response and real feedback from our panel of readers. They include teachers, editors, publishers, librarians, bookstore owners, readers groups, and individual readers from around the country. This is YOUR reading public. You will get feedback from them on YOUR book.


Don't you all want to run right out and enter?

11 comments:

Samuel Tinianow said...

That bit about being placed on the bookstore shelves is interesting. Maybe I'll start making calls around Boston to see just how many of our bookstores' shelves contain copies of Terracopiae Press's one book. Except I already know the answer, so forget it.

B.E. Sanderson said...

It makes me want to run, all right. Far far away.

This thing has a nasty smell about it from the get-go.

Thanks for the heads-up.

BuffySquirrel said...

I couldn't find the book on Amazon.

Terracopiae fails the home page test: it's all about the authors, not the books. Er, book. The page obviously hasn't been updated in a while--they're looking to fill their 2006 calendar. Presumably that didn't happen.

Would it be overly cynical to suggest that this contest may have been prompted by a dearth of submissions?

bjh said...

Why would anyone want to send a partial and $125 to them instead of sending a partial and $0 to an established publisher or agent? Does the word "contest" make people believe their manuscript is more saleable? If legitimate (doubtful), you still need an excellent manuscript; if not, why waste your time, money and hopes?

It never ends. Please continue to keep us updated; I'm always fascinated by the old "fool and his money" adage. But I guess dreams built on mist are why Publish America is still going, Thanks, Victoria.

Anonymous said...

Bleep-BLEEP it!

I am SO in the wrong business.

Just because I have a tiny shred of honesty in my DNA I can't go in for this sort of thing. Otherwise I'd turn my websites over to running literary "contests," rake in the dough, and pay off my bleeping mortgage.

Instead I actually have to WORK for a living. Oh, but that's painful, considering how many neos I could rip off.

The pain...the PAIN!

Anonymous said...

Looks like Terracopiae is a divsion or previous incarnation of http://www.theauthorspress.com/

The address is the same, and the books of "long time Publishing House Manager and Editor H. Christine Lindblom" are published by Terracopiae.

CAO

Anonymous said...

Of course, there are also second and third place prizes within each genre that are targeted at authors who are prepared to publish. These prizes are to help you get there.

Sounds like they think it's standard for authors to pay to publish.

Aconite

Bernita said...

Exactly, Aconite.

Victoria Strauss said...

Looks like Terracopiae is a divsion or previous incarnation of theauthorspress.com/.

Hmmm, that's interesting. The Author's Press has 22 books on offer. None are listed on Amazon under the publisher's name. You can find them if you spot-check, but in many cases there's no cover image or publisher name, and where there is a publisher name, it's different: To The Letter. Many of the books list as shipping in 4-6 weeks (i.e., they must be ordered from the publisher, which suggests that the publisher's books aren't in a wholesaler's catalog).

Doing a little digging on To The Letter, it turns out that it's an editorial service run by the same H. Christine Lindblom who's behind The Author's Press. And guess what? The books To The Letter has edited have all been published by The Author's Press/Terracopiae Press. No wonder both publishers' websites require that all submissions be "professionally edited." Any bets on which editing service they recommend?

Much conflict of interest here, to say the least.

Anonymous said...

I'm running away just like B.E. Sanderson. If I ever run a contest of my own there won't be a entry fee. If I do have one it is to pay an esteemed panel of judges and I will take the time to note actual names on my site in such a case.

*sigh* When will the scamming stop!

Isis McGowan said...

Maybe I should run out and enter.

Then again, maybe I should get out there and shoot myself in the foot with my own weapon of choice...?